Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book review: Marie-Grace and the Orphans by Sarah Masters Buckey

Marie-Grace and the Orphans by Sarah Masters Buckey (Published by American Girl, August 30, 2011)

This book picks up in May 1853, several months after the first two books about Marie-Grace and Cécile. Nine-year-old Marie-Grace Gardner, whose father is a doctor, is working on her schoolwork in his office one night when a baby boy is abandoned on the doorstep. Marie-Grace quickly becomes attached to the baby, who reminds her of her own little brother, who died when he was a baby. She wishes her father would adopt the baby, but he says they must eventually either return him to his family, if they can be found, and if not, take him to an orphange.

When a slave catcher comes to the office claiming the baby is a slave, Marie-Grace is terrified he will be taken away. To protect the baby, Marie-Grace takes him to an orphange, where she often visits him and plays with the other children there. But then a yellow fever epidemic strikes, and Marie-Grace is forced to make a difficult choice to keep the baby safe.

I loved the American Girls books as a child, but even now as an adult I am really enjoying the series about Marie-Grace and Cécile. I love the unusual historical setting of New Orleans in 1853. I think young girls will enjoy this series while hopefully learning about about a very unique place and time from American history.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Last Song by Eva Wiseman

The Last Song by Eva Wiseman (Published by Tundra Books, April 10, 2012)

Spain had been one of the world’s most tolerant societies for eight hundred years, but that way of life was wiped out by the Inquisition. Isabel’s family feels safe from the terrors, torture, and burnings. After all, her father is a respected physician in the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Isabel was raised as a Catholic and doesn’t know that her family’s Jewish roots may be a death sentence. When her father is arrested by Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor, she makes a desperate plan to save his life – and her own.
Once again, master storyteller Eva Wiseman brings history to life in this riveting and tragic novel.

I haven't read much historical fiction about this time period so I am very interested to read this book.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Book review: Tomorrow Girls: With the Enemy by Eva Gray

Tomorrow Girls: With the Enemy by Eva Gray (Published by Scholastic, September 1, 2011)

With the Enemy is book three in the Tomorrow Girls series, and begins right where book two, Run for Cover, ended. This series is about four young girls, Louisa, Evelyn, Maddie, and Rosie, who were sent to a boarding school to keep them safe during a war between the United States and the Alliance, which happened after natural disasters destroyed part of the United States. However the girls soon learned that the school was secretly run by the Alliance and successfully escaped, joining up with three boys from the nearby boys' school. However, just when they were almost home, Maddie was kidnapped, and the other kids think she was taken by agents of the Alliance.

Each book is narrated by a different girl, and this time the narrator is Evelyn, who has always loved conspiracy theories and was suspicious of their school from the start. So now that Maddie has been kidnapped, Evelyn must take the lead in searching for her. When she learns Maddie is being held in an Alliance facility, the kids must come up with a plan to free up.

The books in this series are fun, quick reads that are a good choice for younger readers not yet ready to read young adult dystopian novels. There is less background information than in books for older readers - I'm still a bit frustrated that there are no explanations for what caused the war and who the Alliance is. But I have enjoyed reading about the chararacters and am looking forward to reading the final book in the series, Set Me Free, which will be published in November 2011.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In My Mailbox - 8/27/11

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

I only got one new book this week, I ordered some from Barnes & Noble but they haven't arrived yet.

For review:

Fateful by Claudia Gray

Eighteen-year-old maid Tess Davies is determined to escape the wealthy, troubled family she serves. It’s 1912, and Tess has been trapped in the employ of the Lisles for years, amid painful memories and twisted secrets. But now the Lisle family is headed to America, with Tess in tow. Once the ship they’re sailing on—the RMS Titanic—reaches its destination, Tess plans to strike out and create a new life for herself.
Her single-minded focus shatters when she meets Alec, a handsome first-class passenger who captivates her instantly. But Alec has secrets of his own. He’s in a hurry to leave Europe, and whispers aboard the ship say it’s because of the tragic end of his last affair with the French actress who died so gruesomely and so mysteriously. . . .
Soon Tess will learn just how dark Alec’s past truly is. The danger they face is no ordinary enemy: werewolves exist and are stalking him—and now her, too. Her growing love for Alec will put Tess in mortal peril, and fate will do the same before their journey on the Titanic is over.
In Fateful, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray delivers paranormal adventure, dark suspense, and alluring romance set against the opulent backdrop of the Titanic’s first—and last—voyage.

(This is a finished copy - I read the ARC a few months ago and loved it! You can read my review here)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey (Published by Dial Books, January 5, 2012)

Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends.
Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.
In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted.

This book sounds really good, I love Medieval fantasy and there isn't enough of it these days!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In My Mailbox - 8/13/11

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

Here are the new books I got this week:

For review:

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

EXILED from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as the Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage— and her only hope of staying alive.
Because they must, they will struggle together to survive.
Aria and Perry forge an unlikely alliance—one that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

Incarnate by Jodi Matthews

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies—human and creature alike—let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?
Jodi Meadows expertly weaves soul-deep romance, fantasy, and danger into an extraordinary tale of new life.

Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

Life as the Preliator is harder than Ellie ever imagined.
Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night.
She’s been warned.
Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself.
She’ll be betrayed.
Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay.

Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment—cast by their conniving new stepmother—has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.
Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.
With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam—a beautiful half-witch and her clever brother—Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved. But if she fails…all will be lost.
With a mesmerizing voice and delightful imagination, Diane Zahler delivers an exceptionally dazzling retelling—full of magic, adventure, and fascinating characters. Fans of beautifully written and exciting fantasy novels, including those who love Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine, will be enthralled.

Farmer Boy Goes West by Heather Williams

Almanzo Wilder was the hero who saved the day and saved the town in The Long Winter, who began to court Laura Ingalls in Little Town on the Prairie, and who swept Laura off her feet in These Happy Golden Years.
Now, from the author of Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls, comes a brand-new Little House adventure that introduces readers to Almanzo as a spirited boy about to embark on his own adventures. Farmer Boy Goes West follows Almanzo and his family as they leave Malone, New York, and head to Spring Valley, Minnesota.


Titanic: S.O.S. by Gordon Korman

From bestselling author Gordon Korman, the thrilling conclusion to the adventure aboard the unluckiest ship of all.
The Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable - the largest passenger steamship in the world, one of the biggest and most luxurious ships ever to operate.
For Paddy, Sophie, Juliana, and Alfie, the Titanic is full of mysteries - whether they're to be found in the opulent first-class cabins and promenade decks or the shadows in the underbelly of the ship. Secrets and plans are about to be revealed - only now disaster looms, and time is running out. The four of them need to find the truth, unmask the killer...and try not to go down with the ship. (reviewed here)

Tomorrow Girls: With the Enemy by Eva Gray

In a terrifying new world, four girls must depend on each other if they want to survive.
Evelyn has always suspected that things are more sinister and more complicated than they seem. Now that Maddie has been kidnapped, Rosie, Louisa, and the boys are paying more attention to Evelyn's theories. As the group makes their way toward war-torn Chicago, they're under constant threat of capture. Danger and dark surprises lurk around every twist of the road.
Evelyn knows they need a solid plot to find Maddie. But what the group comes up with may be their riskiest plan yet: infiltrating the Alliance itself. Even Evelyn has her doubts. Can they save Maddie before it's too late?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book review: Titanic, Book Three: S.O.S. by Gordon Korman

Titanic, Book Three: S.O.S. by Gordon Korman (Published by Scholastic, September 1, 2011)

This is the third and final book in the Titanic series by Gordon Korman, and concludes the story of Sophie, Juliana, Paddy, and Alfie, four young teenagers traveling on the Titanic. At the start of the series, they had very little in common. Juliana and Sophie are both first class passengers, but come from very different families - Juliana is the daughter of a British earl, while Sophie's mother is an American suffragist. Paddy is a stowaway, and Alfie lied about his age to get a job on the ship, so he could be near his father. These four unlikely friends worked together to hide Paddy and discover the identity of a murderer traveling on the ship.

This book picks up the story right where book two ended, shortly after the Titanic struck an iceberg and began to sink. Like many others, the four friends thought the Titanic was unsinkable, but soon they realize the ship is doomed. Separated from each other in the chaos, they must fight to save their families, their friends, and their own lives.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series and was eager to read the conclusion to find out what happened to the characters when the ship sank. I am happy to say I was not disappointed and I was eagerly turning the pages to find out what happened next and who would survive. Since this is a book about the Titanic, of course everyone does not survive, so I was expecting that some people would die, but it was still sad to read about it. However I am glad the author decided to make the ending realistic rather than an unrealistic happy ending for everyone. Although this series is written for middle grade readers, I really enjoyed it, and I recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by the story of the Titanic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Daughters of the Sea: Lucy by Kathryn Lasky

Daughters of the Sea: Lucy by Kathryn Lasky (Published by Scholastic, March 1, 2012)

A choice between love and survival . . .
Lucy's family is excited to spend the summer in Bar Harbor, Maine. Her minister father is pleased to preside over such a prestigious congregation, and his social-climbing wife is ecstatic at the chance to find a rich husband for her daughter.
Yet Lucy wants nothing to do with the Bar Harbor social scene; she's simply excited to spend the summer by the sea, watching the waves from her favorite spot on the cliff. Despite having never gone swimming, Lucy feels an intense connection to the ocean, and meets a handsome ship-builder who shows Lucy a world she's never known, yet somehow always longed for.
However, her mother will stop at nothing to keep Lucy and the ship builder apart, even if it means throwing Lucy into the arms of a wealthy man with a dangerous secret. Can Lucy break free and embrace her destiny as a daughter of the sea? Or is she doomed to waste away in a gilded cage, slowly dying of a broken heart?

I enjoyed the first two books in this series and can't wait to read the third. Also I really like this cover, the girl's dress is really pretty and I like how she is looking out at the sea.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book review: Dear America: I Walk in Dread by Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Dear America: I Walk in Dread by Lisa Rowe Fraustino (New edition published by Scholastic, September 1, 2011; originally published in 2004)

Deliverance Trembley, who is twelve years old, begins her diary in December 1691. She lives with her sickly seventeen-year-old sister, Mem, on a farm in Salem Village, Massachusetts. Their uncle, who is supposed to be caring for the girls now that they are orphans and their older brother is away with the militia, has gone to sea and ordered the girls to let no one know he has gone away. Deliverance worries the neighbors will find out the truth and hates that she has to lie.

When girls in Salem Village begin to behave strangely, and are said to be bewitched, Deliverance has even bigger worries. Are there truly witches in Salem Village, doing the Devil's work? Or is the mass hysteria sweeping through the village leading to the accusations of innocent people?

I read this book when it was first published and really enjoyed it, and I recommend it to readers who are fans of the Dear America series, or who like historical fiction about the Salem Witch Trials. I'd been hoping for a while that there would be a book in the series about this topic, and I wasn't disappointed at all by this book. The author did a great job at bringing the events in Salem in 1692 to life.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In My Mailbox - 8/6/11

Credit goes to The Story Siren for creating and hosting the In My Mailbox feature.

Here are the new books I got this week:


Emerald by Karen Wallace

Emerald St. John is in trouble. She has been condemned to marry a man she hates. Her enemies are conspiring to have her pet bear Molly torn apart in the baiting pits, and the man she loves is far away on the high seas. And she has stumbled into a web of spies with a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I. To save herself and the kingdom, she must beat the spies at their own game - which means transforming herself from a country girl into a Court lady. Can she do it in time? Set against a detailed and vivid recreation of a great Elizabethan manor house, EMERALD will bring to life a world where the most sophisticated rules of etiquette went hand in with brutality and superstition.

A Tangle of Magicks by Stephanie Burgis

After her antics in A Most Improper Magick, Kat Stephenson is back to cause more chaos! Stepmama drags the family to Bath to find Kat's sister a new suitor. But, unknown to most of its gossipy visitors, Bath is full of wild magic. When Kat uncovers a plot to harness this magic in the Roman Baths, she finds her brother Charles is unwittingly involved. Kat must risk her newfound magical powers as she defies the Order of the Guardians to foil the plot and clear her brother's name.

Sage for Sanctuary by Felicity Pulman

1141 - England is divided by the bitter civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, and Winchestre is under siege and on fire. Janna's quest to find her father in order to avenge the death of her mother has taken her from forest to farm, abbey and finally to the heart of the royal court at Winchestre. Along the way she has solved many crimes and mysteries, including the mystery of her own birth and her mother's death - secrets that put both her life and her heart in danger. When Lord Hugh comes to Winchestre to finalise his betrothal to a wealthy young woman, bringing with him his trusted steward Godric, Janna knows that it's time to choose between the two men who love her - but her purse has been stolen, she's lost all proof of her real identity and she's working as a lowly drudge in a tavern to support herself. Janna is blamed for trying to destroy Sybil Taverner's business, and needs to find out the truth. Instead, she finds herself fighting for her life against those who would silence her forever.

Thyme for Trust by Felicity Pulman

After the siege of Winchestre in 1441, Janna is overjoyed to finally meet her father but soon realises the threat she poses to her new family when an attempt to poison her goes awry. Spiteful tricks follow until, fearing for her safety, Janna persuades her father to take her to Oxeneford where King Stephen has the Empress Matilda under siege and victory within his grasp. Once again Janna risks her life in the empress's cause, which put her at odds with her father until she confides the truth: that her mother was poisoned and she needs his help to bring a murderer to justice. They journey to Wiltune where Janna's father loses no time in securing the king's consent for Janna to marry one of his barons. Janna is desperate to persuade her father to let her marry the man she loves but, to her horror, she discovers that he has been accused of murder. With her future happiness at stake, Janna has one last crime to solve - until the siege of Wiltune turns her life upside down and changes everything.

The Traitor and the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee

This is the third colourful and action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. Queen Victoria has a little problem: a series of petty thefts from Buckingham Palace. She calls the Agency for help, and they put Mary Quinn - on her first case as a full-fledged agent - on the case. Going undercover as a domestic servant, Mary's assignment seems simple enough. But before long, a scandal threatens to tear apart the Royal Family. One of the Prince of Wales' irresponsible young friends is murdered in scandalous circumstances and the story, if it became public, would disgrace the young prince. Should the Queen hush things up or permit justice to take its course? Mary's interest in this private matter soon becomes deeply personal: the killer, a drug-addicted Chinese sailor, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, James Easton's engineering firm wins a contract to repair some sewers beneath Buckingham Palace. Trouble is, there's a tunnel that's not on the plans. Its purpose is unclear. But it seems to be very much in use - it's just not clear by whom. These overlapping puzzles offer a perfect opportunity for James and Mary to work together again. If they can still trust one another. If they can suppress the emotions that still torture them. If Mary can forget the sight of that exquisite blonde she sees in James' drawing-room...In this, Mary's most personal case yet, she faces struggles at every level - legal, political, personal. And she has everything to lose.

Titanic: Collision Course by Gordon Korman

From bestselling author Gordon Korman, a second heart-stopping adventure aboard the unluckiest ship of all.
The Titanic has hit the high seas--and moves steadily toward its doom. Within the luxury of the cabins and the dark underbelly of the ship, mysteries unfold--a secret killer who may be on board, a legacy that may be jeopardized, and a vital truth that will soon be revealed. For Paddy, Sophie, Juliana, and Alfie, life on the Titanic brings both hiding and seeking, as their lives become irrevocably intertwined.
And then, of course, an iceberg appears, and the stage is set for the final scene. (finished copy, reviewed the ARC here)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen

The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louisen Jensen (Published by Oxford University Press, March 1, 2012)

Set in Georgian England, fifteen-year-old Sophia is trapped by the limitations of living in a man's world. Forced by her father to give up everything she loves, Sophia is ordered to make a new life in Bath. By day, she is trapped in the social whirl of balls and masquerades. By night, she secretly swaps her ball gowns for breeches, and turns to highway robbery to get her revenge . . . When one man begins to take a keen interest in her, Sophia must keep her distance, or risk unmasking her secret life.

I loved all of Marie-Louise Jensen's previous books - she writes wonderful romantic YA historical fiction. So I can't wait to read her next book!
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